A culture is created, grounded, and sustained by specific mindsets and habits that are repeatedly observed, experienced, and performed over a period of time and transmitted from one generation to another.
I grew up on the west side of town. A Westsider’s culture (a subculture of my city, region, nationality) was one of pickup trucks, dirt roads, Southern cooking, respect for elders, and a love for our country and flag. Using “yes, ma’am,” and “yes, sir,” to everyone was ingrained in us as a child. To this day I still observe my mother at 79 years old using these verbal manners to bank tellers and people much younger than her. Why? It’s a part of our culture.
Specific beliefs and behaviors also define a culture. Your behaviors will reflect your beliefs. For example, if your culture taught you to respect elders, your behavior will demonstrate patience, love, affirmation, and care of elders. If your culture taught you to hate a specific racial group, your behaviors will concur with those convictions.
So what defines a culture of the Father’s love and how do we create it? What are specific traits that reflect God and His nature?
Without making a list of dos and don’ts — which is actually against a Father’s love culture — let me try to give a few attributes. Most of these I learned (experienced, observed) over the years from Jack and Trisha Frost of Shiloh Place Ministries.
Attributes of a Father’s Love Culture
- Humility—Andrew Murray in his book Humility, defines this word as “the willingness to know and be known for who you really are.” This is the good, the bad, and the ugly. We accept the fact that we are prideful human beings and need God’s abundant grace to be able to change. And that nothing is beneath us. Not even cleaning bathrooms. At the family conferences Shiloh Place used to have, the team members were the ones who stuck around afterwards to tidy up the church and prepare it again for Sunday. Usually it was Trisha herself who volunteered to clean the bathrooms. She was not “too important” for that job. What an example.
- Caring—It is one thing to say “be warm and filled,” and quite another to invest in someone’s life. A culture of Father’s love is willing to sacrifice. I saw a wonderful example of this in Doug Jones, one of the original Shiloh Place team members. During a meeting there was a young couple trying to listen to the speaker and they were being distracted by their infant doing what babies do. Doug, who was a large middle-aged bearded man, kindly asked if he could hold the child so they could focus on the teaching. The parents willingly agreed as he paced the the back of the room gently cuddling the little one in his chest. Doug expressed Father’s love to this couple.
- Open-Heartedness—All of us have been hurt by people, the church, organizations, etc. In the pains of our past it’s difficult at times to keep our hearts open. It’s a vulnerable position and we are likely to be wounded again. Yet, we when realize Father God is always a refuge and a safe place to find healing, we will continue to open our hearts even when we get stepped on. Forgiveness flows and ultimately this leads to us becoming a safe place for others.
- Value of Others—After receiving love it’s easier to give it away. As we see how God values us, we understand He values everyone and desires the same for all. At one Shiloh Place Father’s Love conference it was lunchtime and everyone was lined up at the cafeteria with their trays. A woman was beginning to walk away with her food when she accidentally dropped her tray and spilled everything. The first person who bent down to help her was Jack, the main speaker. He tried to ease her embarrassment, letting her know accidents happen and her worth is not determined by her “performing” in any way.
A Process, Not Perfection I wish I could say I was exemplifying these attributes perfectly myself but I’m not. However, they are the goal I’m reaching for. As it is said, if you aim for nothing — that’s what you’ll hit. Part of a Father’s love culture is knowing we’re all in process. No one has “arrived” at perfection yet. Being secure in this fact is valuing and caring for yourself; it’s being humble and resting in His love acknowledging that He’s working in you.
Beliefs and Behaviors These listed attributes are not all but some of the behaviors behind the belief that God loves you no matter what. “There is nothing you can do that can make God love you any more than He already does, and there’s nothing you can do that can make Him love you any less.“ — Jack Frost
Rom 8:39 — Nothing is able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If our behaviors reflect we believe this verse, a Father’s Love culture is being transmitted to those around us.